“Writing this book is my way of showing that perhaps there's a lot more to see when we take in perspectives we never previously considered. Because, after all, we are not all the same, but when you think about it, why should we be?"
Nedum Onuoha was not a typical footballer, and never wanted to write a typical footballer’s autobiography. While other members of the Manchester City Academy were working towards their compulsory qualifications in the canteen at the training ground, Nedum was in school, studying for his GCSEs, then A-Levels, a rare player that combined a formal education with his rise to the first team of one of the most famous clubs in world football. He was there for the seismic changes at Manchester City, and when they won their first Premier League title – as an opposition player having left the club just four months previously.
Kicking Back is more than just a tale of those he played alongside, and under. His views on Stuart Pearce, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Roberto Mancini and Harry Redknapp are characteristically forthright of a man who’s now a notable broadcaster for the BBC, ESPN and more; but this is also a book about identity. Nedum’s has been shaped by the experience of being a black man of Nigerian descent growing up – initially as an outsider in Manchester – and then living in the US during the Black Lives Matter protests; and also of a black footballer that faced horrific racist abuse in his career. While his assessment of how football and society have failed the black community is damning, he is also able to provide insights into his family life that are deeply personal, particularly the recollections of his mother, who passed away in 2012.
In his book, Nedum reflects on those moments on the pitch that shaped his career, but also those off it that formed the opinions he shares so frankly. His story is not just that of a footballer, but a black man who has spent a lot of his life in environments where there are few faces like his own.